Safety and security science is a distinct, multidisciplinary activity in the academic community with abundant scientific connotation. Safety Science in Czech Republic, especially in Czech higher education, has developed rapidly in the past 30 years and its development process is affected by some factors including national laws and policies, economic development and administrative system.
The existing literature includes very little knowledge of developing higher education in security issues, and particularly of the related challenges and solutions. Clearly, there is need to increase knowledge in this area. Some factors can be compared with the state in China, where the development process and significant events of safety science abroad and domestic is reviewed [1
]. Due to the highly complex nature of chemical and nuclear accidents and other emergencies, efforts aimed at prevention, preparedness and response require the melding of many types of knowledge and the close collaboration of a wide range of professions. Nevertheless, the need for such integration and cooperation is not always strongly emphasized in university-level curricula [4
]. Understanding how children behave in emergencies and the reasons for their decision making are important to support rescue and fire safety education [6
The approach to security education varies greatly in the international environment. Directions can be found to support the development of master’s degree programs in security management [7
]. Other topics the authors deal with are teachers in the digital security area, e-Safety, evaluation of teaching, ethics concerns use in education [9
]. Another issue related to the aim of the article is educating the next generation of emergency management enhancing safety awareness, preventing hidden danger [14
]. The authors also reflect on the topics of higher education policy, supranational education and higher education, teacher attributes for implementing blended learning in higher education—blended learning in higher education is valued for various reasons such as addressing students’ needs for flexibility, blended learning implementation remains a challenging process [17
In the international environment we can see the focus on the education of society on disaster and risk reduction, disaster risk management as an integral part of sustainability, and a smart education model for future learning and teaching. Looking at how to teach disaster, one apparent gap is that the scientific aspect of disaster is discussed and taught mostly in isolation from its human aspect [21
]. The scientific community also addresses current issues of higher education during the COVID-19 epidemic and ensuring security [25
On the basis of Resolution No. 174 of 8 March 2017, an inter-ministerial expert work group was set up at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, to find optimal integration of the teaching of security topics into the general education programs of primary and secondary schools, including securing of the regular measurability of the results of the teaching of this issue [27
]. One of the steps leading to the resolution of this task is the question of the education of future teachers of security topics who should teach these issues at primary and secondary schools.
The goal of the submitted work is to investigate (questionnaire method) and evaluate (SWOT analysis) the current approach to education at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future educators in the field of security topics. In order to achieve this goal, a framework research project based on empirical research was prepared by the author in the preparatory phase. The research is based on a set of organized knowledge about the thematic area of education at universities and, at the same time, as a process of knowledge creation according to certain methodological rules [28
]. A form of applied research was chosen to address issues of practical relevance and examine specific problems in the area of security topic education at selected universities. The qualitative examination was focused on a certain element in the natural conditions, i.e., education at selected universities in the field of security, trying to understand it and to create, if possible, a complex image thereof.
Security education is a complex topic that affects a number of educational subjects and areas. It includes health protection education, education to protect under common risks and emergencies, traffic education and preparation of citizens for the defense of the state [30
]. In January 2013, the revised Framework Education Programs for Elementary Education (RVP ZV) were approved. These programs apply from the 2013/2014 school year, which means that not only schools have had to respond to change by modifying their school education programmes, but in particular teachers of security topics have to manage specific implementation in the teaching process. In the newly applicable RVP ZV, a wider specification and development of the topics of traffic education and protection of human beings under common risks and emergencies occurred.
The Czech School Inspectorate published a report on education in security topics, wherein an investigation was conducted in 2015 on the basis of individual thematic areas as well as in preschool, primary and secondary education [30
]. In order to map the current situation at universities in this area, the Fire Rescue Corps of the Czech Republic (HZS CR), as one of the members of the aforementioned expert work group, conducted research in the form of a questionnaire survey aimed at evaluating the current approach to education at universities preparing future educators in the field of security topics. The outputs from this survey are prepared as one of the bases for preparing proposals to optimize the inclusion of security topic education in higher education curricula prepared by future educators, and into framework education programs for primary and secondary education.
The research was conducted as a systematic investigation of social phenomena in order to acquire knowledge that describes and explains the current approach to education at universities in the Czech Republic preparing future educators in the field of security topics. The research part included a systematic process of collecting information, synthesizing existing knowledge, and increasing knowledge [31
]. The aim was to obtain a uniform view of the subject of the study—education of security topics at universities preparing future educators. On one hand, the aim was to isolate individual topics of security issues, whilst on the other the individual areas were left as much as possible in the context of other areas. A research question was formulated: “What is the state of current education of security topics at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future educators?” A second research question was defined: “Which security topics and how are they taught at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future educators?”
2. Materials and Methods
In order to achieve the objective and background for the research question, a systemic approach to literature search was used to obtain available information resources, published results and information from education at universities educating future teachers in security issues. Furthermore, the analysis and synthesis method was used, i.e., the distribution of the whole into components and the connection of the partial information into the whole, and a description of the principles in interdependencies. This procedure was used to analyze current information and, in particular, to synthesize it in the final part of the research. One of the methods for processing the research goal was deduction, i.e., the process of judging from premises when a conclusion is made on the basis of evidence. The procedure was applied in the processing of the findings of the empirical research into the summary final part of the research.
The primary research method was the questionnaire survey, where information was collected at selected universities. The questionnaire can be considered as one of the most widespread research techniques. The advantage of applying the questionnaire was easy and fast administration and the possibility of personal (but not institutional) anonymity. The disadvantage can be seen in the formulation of questions that may not be suitable for everyone, and in a certain subjectivity of statements. A SWOT analysis or analysis of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats was used to evaluate and perform the hierarchization of the results obtained from the questionnaire survey. It is a useful and very versatile analytical technique for understanding and interpreting strengths and weaknesses and for identifying opportunities and threats.
The SWOT analysis consists of evaluating and analyzing the current status of the assessed subject/topic, its internal environment and the current situation of the surroundings of the assessed subject, the external environment. The essence of this is to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the internal environment, i.e., where the subject is good and where it lags behind, and the opportunities and threats that are found in the external environment, and thus the subject cannot influence them [34
]. First, the strengths that are perceived as internal forces are analyzed. Above-standard skills, knowledge, potential and resources that can be used in the future for the benefit of society are determined. Weaknesses are the opposite of strengths. In particular, the internal weaknesses of the organization/resolved issues, in which better results could be achieved, are included in this area. Opportunities have been identified for potential improvements, provided they are properly used. Externalities have been identified that could bring success in the future. Threats are external conditions that can make it difficult or threatening to achieve objectives. Negative aspects have been identified as threats and must be counted and systematically prevented.
When examining security topic education at universities preparing future educators, a standardized questionnaire was used, which had a solid structure—an exact set of written questions answered by the respondents in closed questions (yes, no), in dichotomous closed questions (designation of multiple variants) or a select question with one or more answers (disjunctive and conjunctive, or enumeration with an order), in open questions with the possibility of providing their own written answers and scaling questions (from important to unimportant, finding a measure or intensity of a phenomenon). The questionnaire structure included filtration issues, when the respondent only responded to facts relevant for him or her. In the final part of the questionnaire, projection questions were used, when the question was not directed at the respondent’s own attitude, but rather in a transferred meaning to another subject. The selection of respondents for the qualitative research was done as:
deliberate—the selected sample responded to the objective of the research;
summary—the decisions about which faculties will be addressed as part of the research were done at the same time before the beginning of the survey;
based on the willingness of universities (participants) to participate in the research.
Selection of respondents was done on the basis of an overview of universities of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic [35
] by selecting universities preparing future educators. This consisted of nine faculties of education and two faculties of physical education/culture. The overview of universities included in the survey is shown in Table 1
. The inclusion of selected universities among the survey respondents was also based on historical experience, when the subject of “National Defense Education” was taught at faculties of education and faculties of physical education in the second half of the 20th century [36
]. A sample of 11 universities preparing future educators was thereby created. A factor restricting the research was that philosophical and science faculties with teacher orientation were not included in the questionnaire survey.
Individual universities were contacted by letter on 16 November 2019 via the data box from the Ministry of the Interior—the General Directorate of the Fire Protection Service of the Czech Republic with the request to fill in an online questionnaire in the Internet environment. The questionnaire was available on the google web portal and protected against unauthorized access by password that was sent to the respondents in the letter. As of 30 March 2020, all of the respondents filled in the questionnaire. The questionnaire was 100% returned. The quality of the research was ensured by clearly identifying objectives and subsequent research questions, by determining and specifying the methodology, determining the processing deadlines and transparency of the evaluation of the research process.
The evaluation of the information from the qualitative study is as varied as the obtained conclusions. During processing, a simple enumeration technique was used [28
], where the frequency and intensity of the occurrence of a certain character element was monitored. Another approach to data classification was the creation of categories and typologies. The procedure was implemented with an emphasis on searching for and generating more general categories under which multiple cases could be included whilst being definable and interpretable.
The “Approach to education at universities preparing future educators in security topics” questionnaire was divided into sections which determined whether one or more subjects are being taught during the course of study that deal entirely or partially with security topics. In addition, the scope and content of teaching, staffing, further direction and focus of teaching were examined. The current state of the security education teaching solution for universities preparing future educators offers comparisons of individual university departments. The result is the acquisition of information on the similarity or difference of individual relatively closed systems. Comparing systems is suitable for a comprehensive understanding of the current approach of universities in the Czech Republic. The consequence of the comparison can significantly contribute to optimizing co-ordination of the future focus (especially on the part of MEYS), but also for a comprehensive understanding of the essence of security education as a social phenomenon.
The facts ascertained from the questionnaire survey are structurally summarized into the following areas:
Faculties preparing students in bachelor and master study. Five doctoral studies are carried out at five faculties.
The current teaching of security topics is carried out at faculties within different study programs. These are the following study programs, e.g., specialization in pedagogy, tutorship, pedagogy, special pedagogy, primary school teaching, secondary education teaching, teaching of vocational subjects, elementary school teaching, pre-school pedagogy, specialization in pedagogy, health education, teaching of practical education, social sciences with a focus on education, physical education and sport.
The departments responsible for teaching security topics are, e.g., Department of Anthropology and Health Science, Special Pedagogy, Technical and Information Education, Technical and Labor Education, Pedagogy, Physics, Chemistry and Vocational Education, Health Education, Social Sciences, Physical Education, Pedagogy and Psychology, Technical and Combat Sports, Primary Education.
As part of accredited programs, 10 faculties have one or more separate subjects dealing with security topics (e.g., human protection against emergencies, health protection, first aid, traffic education, security of school facility, principles of behavior during an armed attack at school). One faculty has a subject ready for accreditation and one faculty has no separate subject focusing on security issues.
The separate subjects dealing with security topics are, e.g., First Aid, Occupational Safety and Health, Traffic Education, Work Safety and Human Protection during Emergencies, Protection of the Population. The subjects are compulsory or elective within one semester with a time subsidy of 1–3 h per week, and in exceptional cases the subjects are subsidized 8 or 16 h per semester. In total, 91% of the faculties stated that the subjects are taught as compulsory. Six faculties assess the current state as satisfactory.
The subjects partially dealing with security topics are, e.g., Health Education and First Aid Basics, Occupational Safety and Health when Working in School Facilities, Work and Technical Education, Technical Practice. In total, 91% of the faculties stated that the subjects are taught as compulsory.
Respondents marked all of the specific topics that are part of security topics teaching at individual faculties—health protection (82%); human protection during emergencies (73%); security of school facility (55%); traffic education (45%); crime prevention (36%); preparing the population to defend the state (36%); principles of conduct during an armed attack at a school (27%); other emergency systems (9%).
Education of security topics is 100% provided by the faculty’s staff and within one faculty, the teaching is carried out in cooperation with the employees (members) of the medical rescue service of the region, the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, the Police of the Czech Republic, the Army of the Czech Republic and BESIP.
As part of the teaching of security topics subject, the following excursions take place with Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic (4x); medical rescue services (2x); Police of the Czech Republic (2x); traffic playground (2x).
In total, 100% of the respondents rejected that it would be necessary to prepare only a certain part of the students of the faculties of education in the areas of security topics at schools, for example, only students in the field of Health Education.
The SWOT Analysis
The SWOT analysis, or analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, originated in the second half of the 20th century in the United States of America. SWOT is an abbreviation from the English original: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It is a useful and very versatile analytical technique for understanding and interpreting strengths and weaknesses and for identifying opportunities and threats. It is most often used in business as a strategic tool that can be used for business development [38
This primarily includes the internal weaknesses of the organization/resolved issues, in which better results could be achieved. Opportunities were identified for potential improvements, provided they are properly used. External realities were identified that could bring success in the future. Threats are external conditions that can make it difficult or threaten the achievement of objectives. Negative aspects have been identified as threats and must be expected and systematically prevented.
For clearer arrangement of factors into individual segments of analysis, Table 2
of the current approach to education at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future teachers in safety topics was prepared, which divided into four major quadrants. Factors that have a positive impact on the development of the topic were placed in the left half and negative effects and unfavorable assumptions were placed on the right. The upper part maps the factors of an internal nature, while the lower one includes external influences.
After listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, each item was rated. On the basis of the interpretation, the corresponding meaning and value of the examined issue was assigned, and a complex picture thereof was created. For strengths and opportunities, a positive scale from 1 to 5 was used, where 5 means highest satisfaction and 1 lowest satisfaction. A negative scale from −1, which means the lowest dissatisfaction, to −5, which is the highest dissatisfaction, was used for weaknesses and threats.
The pair evaluation method was used in order to determine the relative importance of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats parameters. For each item, the weight factor was calculated, which expressed the importance of each item in that category. The higher the weight that was assigned, the more important the item in the category and vice versa. The sum of the weights in each category must be equal to 1. When calculating the weighting coefficient, the individual criteria were compared to each other. The more important criterion for the problem was selected from each pair. The so-called Fuller triangle was chosen as the comparison system. The ratings and weights are then multiplied. The results in each category are added up, and then the internal part is added, i.e., strengths and weaknesses, and especially the external part of the analysis, i.e., opportunities and threats. These two results are then subtracted from each other to obtain a final SWOT analysis balance [39
]. The calculation of the SWOT analysis of the current approach to education at selected universities in the Czech Republic training future teachers in safety issues is presented in Table 3
and Table 4
It is evident from the above results that the internal environment is more dominant than the external environment. Specifically, the value of 0.278 was obtained for weaknesses and strengths, and the value of −0.056 for opportunities and threats. The final values show that the system of approach to education at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future teachers in safety issues is slightly positive. Strengthening strengths and minimizing weaknesses with opportunities could lead to further improvements.
From Table 3
, it can be seen new facts about the current approach that strengths (S) gained the highest frequency from the internal environment, which it is necessary to further strengthen and develop; in particular, this consists of the binding university teaching to include safety issues in Framework Education Program and School Education Program. From the external environment, threats (T) were marked with only a slight predominance, namely concerning the absence of a uniform requirement guaranteed by MEYS for teaching into newly prepared accreditation. The fact that most faculties have at least one subject with safety issues with a relevant frequency of less than 17% was accentuated from part of the strengths. From the weaknesses (W), the most significant result was with a relative frequency of almost 17%; this concerns a lack of interest from the management of individual faculties in introducing or prolonging teaching of safety issues. The use of new, attractive teaching aids has the most preferences in opportunities (O) with a relative frequency of almost 6%.
The benefit of the questionnaire survey and evaluation using SWOT analysis is to obtain new and comprehensive information on the state of training of future teachers in the Czech Republic. The fragmentation and inconsistency of the approach of individual universities is evident from the presented results of the investigation. The implementation of the teaching of security topics is organized within different study programs and departments. Here, it is possible to trace the linkage of the focus of teaching to a specific security topic within specific study programs and departments. The most typical example is first aid training implemented in the Health Education, Physical Education and Sport study programs, teaching of health education provided by the Department of Anthropology and Health Science, health education, physical education, etc.
Teaching of security issues is carried out at faculties of education in 10 cases with a separate security issues subject. The investigation did not include the evaluation of the content of individual subjects. Nevertheless, it can be claimed according to the above names of subjects with a security theme that only a small number of subjects will cover the subject matter in the scope of all of the topics included in the framework education programs for elementary education introduced by the act on pre-school, primary, secondary, higher vocational and other education, the so-called School Act [41
]. Clearly, the most attention in individual subjects is paid to the topic of first aid and, consequently, to the issue of human protection during emergencies. In addition, subjects are taught at the faculties that only partially deal with security issues. According to the names of the subjects, it can be assumed that they are similar in terms of content to subjects dealing with this issue but spend less time on it.
From the point of view of securing lecturers, the teaching is provided by core staff members of faculties with very limited participation of external lecturers from rescue organizations and the security services. This situation is partly influenced by the demand from universities for the postgraduate education of lecturers and the demand for scientific and publishing activity, which external lecturers can hardly fulfil in practice. As part of the teaching, respondents specified the organizing of excursions to organizations focusing on security issues. Excursions may be an appropriate addition to theoretical knowledge if they are prepared as such and are not merely a demonstration of technical equipment. The publication of textbooks and study texts is only addressed in three universities in the investigated area. To a greater extent, expert text materials or information from the websites of the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, Medical Rescue Services of the region, the Police of the Czech Republic, the Army of the Czech Republic and BESIP are used.
The preparation of all future teachers across disciplines should focus on basic skills and knowledge of how to prevent emergencies and how to protect oneself and entrusted students in the event of their occurrence. The specified agreement of all respondents confirms that even educators express the necessity of teaching security education. Clearly emphasized from amongst the topics were first aid/health protection and emergency behavior guidelines (in the event of a leak of a hazardous substance, improvised protection). On the other hand, the respondents described as less important the preparation of the population for the defense of the state. This view is likely based on the perception of defense as a tool for the protection of the population during a war conflict.
A total of 82% of respondents would conceive training on security issues as part of the general education base and 18% of respondents would conceive teaching as specialized training. The comments of one respondent provided another option, i.e., the creation of a separate study branch in connection with the creation of a similar subject in primary and secondary schools.
Partial efforts to deal with education of security topics also come from politicians. For example, Prague Security and Crime Prevention councilor L. Hadrava said: “I am convinced that the security of the population requires a systemic solution, both in the upbringing of children and in the preparation of teachers in connection with security literacy. At present, children’s and citizens’ awareness of security issues is not ideal. Therefore, it is obviously necessary to consider the unification of the population preparation system within the Czech Republic, and to begin quickly and intensively devoting time to raising children, citizens and professionals, teachers and lecturers. I would consider it very beneficial if, for example, we were able to unify the programme of the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, Human Protection during Emergencies, with the preparation of citizens for the defense of the state, together with other programs such as the Medical Rescue Services Initiative in Teaching First aid.” [42
]. The interest of elected self-government representatives and the social demand for implementation of the security topics is an important form of support for the implementation of a uniform standardized approach.
The development of a differentiated education process in security topics at universities preparing future educators can be monitored in particular:
in the difference in theoretical teaching subjects in the curriculum of the field of pedagogical study of security issues at universities;
in the line of university and other textbooks on security topic theory that reflect the current situation of individual university worksites;
in addition to the materials mentioned above, it is possible to draw from a very limited number of other opinions published on the topic, such as professional periodicals, conferences, seminars.
It is clear from the investigation and the presented outputs how education in the field of security at faculties of education in the Czech Republic is represented. The approach of individual faculties is very diverse, and it is possible to refer first and foremost to first aid education as a common element. The taught topics are dealt with very differently and inconsistently. If it is in the interest of society to educate future teachers in security topics, it is necessary to develop minimum standards (framework programs) for the teaching of security issues that would be binding for accreditation by a competent authority of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Furthermore, it is necessary to clearly determine whether the education of security topics should be included, and to what extent across all study programs or just selected study programs. A possible solution is the inclusion of security topics in the basic scope as a common part of the general education basis for all study programs. A special part would continue in the form of an optional subject that would build on and develop the basic part as specialized training for all or selected study programs. This approach requires the determination of the extent and succession of individual subjects. Given that there is currently no separate subject at elementary and secondary schools that would only deal with security topics, it is not appropriate to create a separate study program. The graduates thereof would not be able to find jobs. A suitable solution in current conditions is the creation of basic common security content with the possibility of a selective continuation in the form of specialization.
The conducted investigation brings and leads to the acquisition of new and relevant information temporally related to the year 2018 in the Czech Republic. In addition, the formulation of survey results serves as feedback for the universities themselves. The investigation leads to a holistic understanding and perception of the diversity of the teaching approaches of individual universities in the Czech Republic. The research, methodology and information are presented in such a way that the research is verifiable and repeatable. The result of the survey is used by an expert group of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, which develops minimum standards for the accreditation process of the faculty of education.
The validity of the research is evident from the fulfilment of the requirement of relevance between the research goal, the procedure and the results achieved—it was explored what the goal was [43
]. The validity of the objective of “exploring and evaluating the current approach to education at selected universities in the Czech Republic preparing future educators in security topics” includes two aspects—whether the determined research goal was achieved and whether a faithful image of reality was obtained. The research approach included the requirement of truthfulness, objectivity and correctness, and it can be stated that the specified procedure fulfilled the research goal and an overview of the current state of the security topic teaching at selected universities preparing future teachers was obtained.
Historically, research in the field of military education in the past was carried out mainly by military education departments. Their current absence limits the professional development of the area in question. Certain substitutions may include the departments of health education or social sciences, but here, security issues are generally marginal. The implementation of scientific research activities is a basic prerequisite for possible professional development and quality contemporary approach to the issues of security education at universities preparing future teachers.